New State Website On Local COVID Education Relief Up and Running

The Maryland State Department of Education launched a website dedicated to Local Education Agency (LEA) reported spending of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) pandemic resources. 

As part of its “commitment to fiscal stewardship and transparency,” the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) published today a statewide website about Local Education Agency (LEA)-reported spending of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) pandemic resources.

According to a press release:

The website contains data and information about federal revenue, contextualizes the amount of federal revenue with other State and Local LEA spending, provides visualizations of the amount of pandemic funding each LEA has spent, to date, by category, and includes an option to download source data files.

The U.S. Department of Education’s distribution of ESSER funds allows LEA spending and performance reporting through 2024. Data trends indicate that Maryland LEAs are spending relief funds at the pace expected, challenging claims that school districts are not spending resources fast enough. LEAs are spending the earliest funds received first with more than 90% of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) ESSER funds now spent.

Of particular interest is a feature on the new website breaks out local spending by category and by county.

“MSDE recognizes how COVID relief funds have been instrumental in sustaining Maryland schools through the pandemic and recovery. District spending reflects an intent focus on safe, full-time, in-person instruction, emotional and social health supports, and the acceleration of student learning and achievement,” said State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury. “Strategic, deliberate planning is required to deploy these federal resources in the most effective way. Doing so requires a measured implementation process, which Maryland’s LEAs are working diligently to ensure.”

To date, Maryland has received more than $3.2 billion in ESSER funding. Those resources were spread across the three, emergency federal pandemic recovery pieces of legislation:

  • Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) – ESSER I
    • $422.9 million
  • Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) – ESSER II
    • $789.9 million
  • American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act – ESSER III
    • $2.07 billion

According to MSDE’s press release, the state’s local jurisdictions have spent ESSER funds in the following ways, so far:

ESSER spending trends to date show that initial spending by LEAs, on average, focused on non-personnel costs related to personal protective equipment (PPE), student devices and wi-fi connectivity. ESSER II and ESSER III funding, in contrast, has, on average, shifted toward personnel-related costs to directly support academic and behavioral health interventions that address learning loss and accelerate student learning. Funds used to support personnel costs include stipends and additional pay for teachers providing tutoring interventions, staff costs for extended day and summer learning activities, and janitorial and custodial salaries, essential in keeping learning environments safe. LEAs also broadly invested some ESSER resources to jumpstart Blueprint-related work.

Read the full MSDE press release.

Explore the new ESSER funding website.

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